While the Indianapolis Colts board a chartered jet to face Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots, I’m at home in Indianapolis staring at my computer screen with college football on the television in the background. My exciting plans include another round of rehab and watching Stanford take on Oregon tonight. I’m currently living the life of an injured NFL player.
The hot topic lately regarding NFL injuries is concussions. The violent nature of the game lends itself to brain injuries aplenty, and hopefully newly-instituted rule changes (and hefty fines– I will try to address that in a future post) will affect the game, as well as the health and careers of the men playing it. While the ramifications of these injuries are scary down the road, other injuries are more impactful in terms of the amount of games missed immediately afterward. I don’t have empirical data to back that up, but that’s why it’s great to be blogging, and not writing for a real news source where you (supposedly) have to check your data.
Throughout my college career, I DID NOT MISS A SINGLE GAME. It’s a feat that I am proud of, and a streak I hoped to take into my NFL career. There were definitely times that I was in pain while playing, but it seems sometimes like a badge of honor to play through it. “I have to play through this. My team needs me.” Obviously the reasoning varies in each scenario, but it becomes more difficult to miss games when your team is winning.
When I hit the ground after a catch in Nashville this year, I felt a jolt of pain through my shoulder and a sound that I’ll describe as “concerning.” I hoped that I would just need some time to calm down on the sideline, and then be fine (or at least that’s what I convinced myself to do). Occasionally in a game or practice, I’ll get a bump or bruise or get rolled up on and have injury scenarios race through my mind until I can test the injury out. Most of the time, it ends up beingjust a bump or bruise, and I can continue playing. I would imagine this is what happens in most scenarios when players go to the sidelines with a trainer, and then are seen back in the game a couple plays later.
Attempting to go back in after halftime led me to believe I would be doing my team a disservice being in the game (even with a nice brace). This and further risk of injury are the only scenarios that I feel obligated to take myself out of the game. Not that I am special, there are guys on the Colts right now that are playing through a significant amount of pain.
According to a recent NFLPA meeting presentation (that I thoroughly enjoyed sitting through– for future reference, sarcasm will be rampant in my posts), approximately 65% of NFL players retire with a permanent injury. While that statistic may get your attention, I don’t know what falls into the categories of “permanent” or “injury”.
After learning of my injury, a friend who was worried for my health said, “Don’t let them just shoot you up and send you back out there!” While I thanked him for his concern, I also explained that I haven’t seen this type of mentality in the doctors, training staff, or the management at the Colts. I can’t promise that it doesn’t exist elsewhere, but in my limited time in the NFL, it seems like the players are often the ones pressuring the doctors for clearance to play, not the reverse.
Many players struggle with the mental aspect of an injury. I think that’s partially where I stand today. It’s partially “cabin/training room fever”, partially boredom (it’s much harder to pay attention in meetings when you aren’t on the practice film every day), and partially frustration. Everyone’s scenario is different: some worry about being cut; some worry about being put on Injured Reserve, and being unable to play the rest of the season; some are afraid their job won’t be there when they get back; guilt of taking up a roster spot when the team needs help in other personnel areas, etc. There is a lot of time to think of worst case scenarios when you’re injured. Right now, I just want to help my team, and watching from the sidelines, while a great view compared to the stands, is eating away at me.
1. It’s looking like I won’t need surgery.
2. I may get a second career out of this. See the 1993 movie “Rookie of the Year” if you don’t believe me.
1. Missing games sucks.
2. “You are getting better or you are getting worse; you never stay the same.”–A massive sign on the Stanford football practice field is burned into my mind, constantly reminding me that I am losing valuable time.
WHAT I’M WONDERING:
1. What are split ends?
2. Why are they bad?
3. Does Clay Matthews have split ends?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“Whatchu know about the beer brats?!”-player carrying uncooked brats from his unrefrigerated locker, while simultaneously discussing a potential rap recording on the topic.